Wednesday 7 March 2018

Let’s have a fairer voting system

The benefit of having a first past the post electoral system, we are told, is that it produces decisive results. This has proved to be a largely undelivered benefit in the last three General Elections (2010, 2015, 2017). Of course, not only is FPTP now failing to produce decisive (sometimes ascribed the abjective ‘strong’) government, it produces a Parliament that does not reflect the opinions of those that vote (and likely those who abstain too).

No wonder we (politicians) are struggling to engage. We have an electoral system designed to maintain the status quo (and I write as a Labour member and activist whose party more often than not benefits from our antiquated voting system). The only change that can realistically be offered at General Elections under the current system is either blue or red. This encourages tactical voting, and perhaps as a beneficiary of this last June I ought not to complain too much (second, but with Labour’s best ever result in Southend West). But I do complain because my sense of fairness is offended. Also, as a radical and progressive, I want a democracy that actually works properly.

So much for the promise of strong and stable government.

Since we have got somewhat used to the idea of coalition we should be unafraid of change/progress. If we have a fairer, and thus proportional, voting system then allv otes would count – none would be wasted and the complaint that “my vote won’t change anything” largely goes away.

Last June we saw a Conservative Party gain 49% of the seats in the House of Commons based on 42% of the vote. (Ironically, Labour got 40% on both counts). The Liberal Democrats are perennial sufferers, this time seeing 7% of the popular vote rewarded with 2% of the seats. The minor parties suffer even more.

There are many ways to implement a more proportional, and fairer, voting system. We stand alone in Europe (Belarus excepted) in having such an antiquated and unfair system. I want to see greater participation and engagement with our democracy, and changing it it so that all votes count is surely the way to go.

1 comment:

St Luke's Voice Winter 2018/19 edition